As the warm weather finally began to ascend in Colorado Springs many area runners came out of hibernation.
On Saturday more than 900 runners took part in the Take 5 in the Garden race at the Garden of the Gods, another example of the Colorado Springs' strong running community.
'There was a ton of support, ' said Sean Brown, the five-mile winner in 26 minutes and 59 seconds. 'Probably 80 percent of the people I went by said some encouraging words. It was a good motivator. '
The event, featuring a 5K and five-mile race, is the second of six races in the Colorado Springs Grand Prix of Running, in its 16th year. The next event is the Sailin' Shoes 5K on June 15.
However, beyond the opportunity to go for a gorgeous run with snow-capped mountains and breathtaking red sandstone rocks overlooking them, every runner had the support of a special running community.
It's a community that still amazes Colorado native Donna Garcia. The 40-year-old was the first female to cross the finish line in the event's 5K (22:05.86).
'That's one of the things I love the most, meeting new people, ' Garcia said. 'Everyone cheers everyone on. It doesn't matter if you're first or last. It's like we're in it together. '
Ironically, Garcia met her boyfriend, Simon Gutierrez, during the past Pikes Peak Road Runners Winter Series and the local running scene provided them a connection.
Gutierrez won Saturday's 5K (17:08.24) and laughed about how he and Garcia met.
'We were Team Scrambled Legs and she was on the HART (High Altitude Running Team), and I started giving her a hard time about our team, ' Gutierrez laughed. 'One thing led to another and I ended up pacing her on the Super Bowl 5K. '
Garcia flashed a smile as well about being on different teams over the winter.
'That was hilarious, ' she said. 'It was funny. It would just get us talking about stuff. '
The couple, who run the Jack Quinn's weekly 5K together, have been dating for three months and are one example of relationships founded through area runners.
It is a community Gutierrez always wanted to be a part of before moving here from Alamosa two years ago.
'I'm still in awe, ' Gutierrez said. 'There are so many fun functions and great races. The running community, everybody pulls together and does things together. It's so easy to train and race here. '
Kelly Calway, 29, who also runs professionally, hit the course as a recreational runner and took first place in the female division of the five-mile course in 30:55.43. The 29-year-old said it is refreshing to run with members of the local community.
'It's amazing, ' Calway said. 'Everybody is so active and so motivated and high-fiving on the course. Everybody is like 'keep it up No. 1 girl' and it's so cool to see that and to be a part of that. '
So, where does the Colorado Springs running community rank against others Calway has visited?
'I have been to a few other events in other communities and it's nothing like this, ' Calway said. 'We are the fittest community I have ever seen. We have the beautiful scenery, some serious smiling faces, motivated people and some seriously fast people. '